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review 2019-03-15 23:49
I'm not the audience for this one
New Kid - Jerry Craft

New Kid by Jerry Craft is a middle grade graphic novel that tells the story of a boy named Jordan who has (against his will) been enrolled in a prestigious private school in the upscale (and predominantly white) neighborhood of Riverdale. While he didn't necessarily feel like he fit in among his peers at his old school in Washington Heights he really feels like the outsider at this school being one of only 3 students of color. (There's a lot of mixing up of names by the teachers + bullying by peers.) In classic 'rebellious preteen' fashion he feels that the world (i.e. good ol' mom) is set on ruining his life because she won't let him go to art school instead of this place where it seems like everyone is either rich, white, or both. To help him sort through his frustrations and rage he takes to working on a sketchbook detailing his experiences. [A/N:These comics are interspersed throughout the book.] New Kid is a coming of age story about classism, racism, and finding out where you truly belong. 

 

Honesty compels me to tell you that I didn't necessarily love this book because of its predictability and slow moving pace. However, this book wasn't written with me in mind as its audience and therefore I think for the young person who is feeling 'other' and beaten down by circumstances out of their control this could be quite an important book. I liked the illustrative style particularly how it worked so well with the sprinkling of Jordan's comics with their very different artistic approach so no complaints on that front. For me it's a 4/10 but in terms of readability for that audience I'd say 8/10.

 

Source: Amazon

 

An example of Craft's style. [Source: iTunes]

 

 

What's Up Next: Remember? Remember? by Charles Beaumont

 

What I'm Currently Reading: ElfQuest Archives Volume 4 by Wendy & Richard Pini

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2019-03-08 06:51
Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
Black Like Me - John Howard Griffin

For my thoughts, go to: Confessions of a Book Freak

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review 2019-02-28 02:59
Barracoon (Audiobook)
Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” - Zora Neale Hurston

This is an odd one to rate. This is a short piece and once you get into the narrative, it's a series of interviews that author Zora Neale Hurston did with the last survivor of the last "black cargo" Kazoola, renamed Cudjo Lewis by his master.

 

The interviews start with his life as a free man in Africa and goes over his life from the tribal wars that decimated his country and resulted in him and his other tribespeople being sold into slavery. He tells about his stay in the barracoon, awaiting transport to an unknown country. This was in 1860, long after the transport of human cargo was made illegal - not that this resulted in his freedom of course. Nope, just a fine for his buyers! He tells about his freedom, and how he and his other former tribespeople founded Africa Town, now called Plateau, Alabama. He gets married, they have several children

who all die through illness or violence or accident before their parents.

(spoiler show)

 

He had a fascinating life and getting to hear it through his own words and vernacular was really amazing. Hurston was right to insist that she keep his words intact. It could be difficult to read, but listening to Robin Miles's narration made it very easy to understand him.

 

What fell short for me was everything else. The running time on the audiobook is just under four hours, and only half of that is Cudjo talking about his life. The intro goes on for about an hour and details the accusations of plagiarism on Hurston's initial essay, published in 1928, before the majority of the interviews took place. The last forty minutes are Cudjo telling folktales or about games he used to play as a child. It was nice, but not really what I wanted to listen to. 

 

While I'm glad that Cudjo's words remained intact, I would've also liked for his testimonies to be expanded on with historical data. Being told that everything he said was verified isn't quite enough. We're not even told when he or his wife died. If we can be given an introduction that goes on and on about the plagiarism allegations, we can also get an afterword with supplementary information about Cudjo's life.

 

Still, this is an invaluable piece of history, and a remarkable man who lived through more trials than any one person should.

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review 2019-02-22 03:06
Another Country (Audiobook)
Another Country (MP3 Book) - Dion Graham,James Baldwin

Once again, I find myself not really sure what to think of a book. It was undoubtedly well-written and an interesting examination of liberalism in the 1950s, the struggles between the races and how the anger and confusion and incomprehension of everyone's varying struggles and outlooks can make a group of friends - if you can even really call them that - do pretty horrible things to each other. 

 

I can't really say I liked any of the characters. They were all self-involved assholes who could only see their own pain, but then, that was also the point of the story, so I guess it was successful, lol. But people who cheat because they can't figure out what they want -and everyone here cheats at one point or another - are just not very good people. They're dishonest and unfaithful, to themselves as much as their partners and families. I could sympathize with some of them, especially Ida. The constant misogyny made me uncomfortable, even more so than the brutal examination of racism and internal homophobia.

 

The interpersonal relationships of the various characters were used to examine the larger world these characters lived in, to really look at what it meant to be alive in this time and place. What did it mean to be white? To be black? To be male or female? To be queer? And how was this group of people going to meet these challenges, how would they struggle with the old ways while trying to create new ones, if that was even possible?

 

It's an uncomfortable read, and it's meant to be, but not being able to really connect with the characters prevented me from really getting into the story.

 

The narrator, Dion Graham, was very listenable and did a good job with all the voices, male and female. I listened at 1.20 times and it was perhaps still just a tad too slow.

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review 2019-02-10 21:20
Devotions: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship and Sacrifice
Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice - Adam Makos

I started this one with the audiobook which I borrowed from my library. For those of you who complain about audios that are performed, this is the audiobook for you. Hoffman's narration was technical and dry with zero emoting at all. It was incredibly difficult for me to listen to. I found my mind often wondering and having to rewind several times, and even then I couldn't keep my attention on the story for very long.

 

I got to about 75% and gave up, switching over to the paperback. I spent most of yesterday skim-reading the first 340 pages to pick up all the stuff I missed while listening, and finished up the last few chapters last night and this morning and looked at the various photos and maps that the audio obviously doesn't have. The writing flowed much better once I was reading it.

 

The Korean War is known as the Forgotten War, or as the veterans of that war call it, the Forgotten Victory. Many of them were already veterans from WWII, and many others had been too young to fight in WWII but were now fighting in this war. I didn't know much about the Korean War before going into this, so it was interesting to learn more about it, what forces were involved, what the stakes were and all that. 

 

This war also started just a few years after Pres. Truman desegregated the military, but there was still Jim Crow in the south, and segregation laws throughout much of the US, including D.C. and California. The book gives some accounts of the early lives of Tom Hudner, a white man from a wealthy New England family, and Jesse Brown, the navy's first black officer, from a poor sharecropper family in Mississippi. They would become friends once they both got assigned to the U.S.S. Leyte. It also focuses on a number of the other pilots in their squadron, and how they all bonded in their first year together.

 

Once the book gets to North Korea and the battles that took place there in the first year of the war, up to the battle of Chosin, it includes accounts of the Marines that the pilots of Squadron 32 helped to defend. There's also an account about a third of the way into the book of their stay in Cannes where many of them met a young Elizabeth Taylor, and I felt that part was rather meandering and didn't really amount to much.

 

Makos doesn't stray into dramatics. He reports the facts and relays them in an approachable manner. He interviewed many of the men he portrays here, as well as their friends and family, and even went to North Korea to interview veterans there when Hudner returned there years later, which is true dedication. The writing is simple but not unmoving when it needs to be. 

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